Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Anxiously Engaged/Men Can Change

Jocelyn is hosting a Book of Mormon blog Forum, and I decided I wanted to participate. She asked each person to blog about the Book of Mormon scripture(s) from an October General Conference talk that meant the most to you. I feel like October General Conference really set me on a path of some soul searching and earnestly striving to live the gospel more fully. I have read and reread many of the talks and there are two that especially touch my heart. The talk that touched me most deeply during my original viewing of conference and that continues to be on my mind almost daily was "Be Anxiously Engaged" by Elder M. Russell Ballard. I loved his story of the honeybee:

"Honeybees are driven to pollinate, gather nectar, and condense the nectar into honey. It is their magnificent obsession imprinted into their genetic makeup by our Creator. It is estimated that to produce just one pound (0.45 kg) of honey, the average hive of 20,000 to 60,000 bees must collectively visit millions of flowers and travel the equivalent of two times around the world. Over its short lifetime of just a few weeks to four months, a single honeybee’s contribution of honey to its hive is a mere one-twelfth of one teaspoon.

Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees to do becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part.

The beehive has always been an important symbol in our Church history. We learn in the Book of Mormon that the Jaredites carried honeybees with them (see Ether 2:3) when they journeyed to the Americas thousands of years ago. Brigham Young chose the beehive as a symbol to encourage and inspire the cooperative energy necessary among the pioneers to transform the barren desert wasteland surrounding the Great Salt Lake into the fertile valleys we have today. We are the beneficiaries of their collective vision and industry."

Elder Ballard encouraged each of us to pray each day to have the opportunity to serve. I began doing that in earnest in November, and while most of the service I provided was small, it brought a lot of peace and joy to me. I did find ways to serve nearly every day. Of course, I found ways to serve my family, but I also found ways to reach beyond and serve others. I began to feel my heart turned more and more to others. I feel certain that this helped set the stage to prepare my heart for the calling as Relief Society President that I received in December. A calling that has stretched me, humbled me, blessed my life in countless ways and allowed me to contribute my one-twelth of one teaspoon to the Lord's hive.

Elder Ballard referred to Alma 5:12-21. I love all of this, but verse 16 has always been a favorite verse of mine. It reads, "I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?"
I love this. I want to have lived so that the Lord can say that my works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth. As I teach my children, as I serve in my calling, as I study and pray, I am trying to draw nearer to the Lord each day and trying to reach beyond myself to serve and bless the lives of others. I know I can't do it alone. But if we each contribute our one-twelth of one teaspoon and we each place our trust in the Lord, then our cup will run over.

The second talk that has meant a great deal to me since my call as Relief Society President is the talk given by President Monson at Priesthood Session entitled "See Others as they May Become." President Monson tells of a missionary who was experiencing phenomenal success. Brother N. Eldon Tanner asked him why he was so successful and he responded that he tried to baptize every person he met. He would picture the man in a suit and tie and he could visualize the man entering the baptismal font. This made all the difference because he wasn't afraid to teach anyone or bear powerful testimony to them.

President Monson said, "We have the responsibility to look at our friends, our associates, our neighbors this way. Again, we have the responsibility to see individuals not as they are but rather as they can become. I would plead with you to think of them in this way."

This has made a difference in my interactions with others. I work full time as a teacher, and I have never hidden my beliefs. However, I have been a little more open with my colleagues about my beliefs lately. When I have done visits to less active members of my ward, I try to remember that each person is a beloved child of God and has the potential to repent and to change. In a few cases, I think they have felt this and it has caused a softening in their heart. But regardless of whether it has changed their heart or not, it has changed mine.

Pres. Monson quoted 2 Timothy 1: 7-8: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”

Men, and women, can change. I am thankful that I have been given the gift of repentance and that I can change. I am thankful for a prophet of God who believes that others can change and lives by that belief. I have recently read President Monson's biography and have been so touched by all that I learned from reading it. I wrote about some of my thoughts and feelings about his biography inthis post and this post.

We are so blessed to have a living prophet and to have the fulness of the gospel in the Book of Mormon. I am so thankful!